Mass extinction and the structure of the Milky Way

Filipovic, M. D. and Horner, J. and Crawford, E. J. and Tothill, N. F. H. and White, G. L. (2013) Mass extinction and the structure of the Milky Way. Serbian Astronomical Journal, 187 (187). pp. 43-52. ISSN 1450-698X

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Abstract

We use the most up-to-date Milky Way model and solar orbit data in order to test the hypothesis that the Sun's galactic spiral arm crossings cause mass extinction events on Earth. To do this, we created a new model of the Milky Way's spiral arms by combining a large quantity of data from several surveys. We then combined this model with a recently derived solution for the solar orbit to determine the timing of the Sun's historical passages through the Galaxy's spiral arms. Our new model was designed with a symmetrical appearance, with the major alteration being the addition of a spur at the far side of the Galaxy. A correlation was found between the times at which the Sun crosses the spiral arms and six known mass extinction events. Furthermore, we identify five additional historical mass extinction events that might be explained by the motion of the Sun around our Galaxy. These five additional significant drops in marine genera that we find include significant reductions in diversity at 415, 322, 300, 145 and 33 Myr ago. Our simulations indicate that the Sun has spent ~60% of its time passing through our Galaxy's various spiral arms. Also, we briefly discuss and combine previous work on the Galactic Habitable Zone with the new Milky Way model.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Access to Published version allowed due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2014 23:01
Last Modified: 10 May 2017 23:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: astrobiology; galaxy structure; solar neighbourhood
Fields of Research : 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020109 Space and Solar Physics
02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020104 Galactic Astronomy
02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020101 Astrobiology
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.2298/SAJ130819005F
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/25359

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